Prakash Amritraj and Sunil Kumar Sipaeya surrendered to the resilience and guile of their Japanese opponents to crash out of the singles event of the $ 50,000 ATP Challenger tournament in New Delhi on Wednesday.
Second seeded Prakash and unseeded Sunil, both wild card entrants, lost in straight sets to veteran Gouichi Motomura and Toshihide Matsui respectively in the second round of the hard court event at DLTA Complex.
Prakash, the numero uno men's player of India lost a tough battle 6-7 (4), 6-7 (3) to his 35-year-old opponent, ranked 130 rungs below him at 352, while Sunil lost 6-7 (7), 4-6, drawing curtains on Indian campaign.
It was Prakash who shot into lead after breaking Gouichi in the third game in the first set as the Indian began solidly with his serve and volley game.
Prakash, watched by his father Vijay Amritraj, sent some good service returns to earn the breakpoint and was benefited when Gouichi, cheered by his two kids, netted a forehand to create lead.
However, the Japanese soon get into the groove and did not let Prakash play to his strength. He countered his net game with cunningly angled winners forcing Prakash to commit mistakes and stuck him back to baseline.
Leading 5-3, Prakash could have taken the first set when he dropped a good volley to earn his second breakpoint of the set but could not cash in on, hitting a forehand long.
Gouichi played a sensible game as he hit shots to the erring forehands of Prakash, which the Indian lost control over.
Now it was Japanese's turn to get break which he did splendidly to level the scores 5-5. Gouichi began the 10th game with a service return winner and forced Prakash to err on volley point to break him.
The issue stretched to the tie-breaker in which Prakash could manage just three points on his own serve.
In the second set, Prakash wasted a breakpoint in the fourth game and dropped his own serve in the next game to go down 2-3 as an experienced Gouichi played good tactics.
Again in the sixth game Prakash had two breakpoints but failed to convert and then in the eighth game he had the chance to level the scores but unforced error on a volley point spoiled his chance.
He though succeeded in breaking Gouichi in the 10th game and finally drew parity but only to lost the match in the tie-breaker when the Japanese hit a stunning cross court forehand winner.
It was same story with Sunil, who did not utilise the chances that came his way and committed too many unforced errors to crash out.
After wasting two breakpoints in the very first game he dropped his serve in the fifth game but broke back Matsui in the ninth to eventually make it 5-5.
The keenly fought tie-break went in favour of the Japanese when Sunil committed a double fault and followed it up by netting a forehand.
In the second set too the sad story of unforced errors continued and Matsui ensured that not Indian remains in the hunt at home event.